Online marketers are facing a challenging SEO landscape with ever-evolving search algorithms and the exodus of organic search terms keeping them on their toes. A CMS implementation worth its salt will enforce and encourage a robust on-page SEO policy that follows best optimization practices. Although your content owners will need to do the heavy lifting of writing effective content and keyword targeting, Sitecore can do a wonderful job of helping you enforce these practices.

The following table outlines a selection of long-standing SEO ranking factors and an explanation of how Sitecore can support their optimization.

SEO Factor

Recommended Sitecore Configuration

The page title <title> is meaningful and describes the content.

A base template can be configured such that each page-level item inherits three editable fields, allowing for customization of:

 

1)   Browser title - <title> for HTML document

2)   Navigation title – title used in navigation links. Allows for an abbreviated version for rendering purposes, or alternate terminology

3)  Page title – Heading 1 (H1) title

The default Browser Title value should be set to [Page Name] – [Organization Name], with the organization name stored in a global configuration item.

A Sitecore custom validator on this field can check:

  • The page title, browser title and meta description are unique to the page in the current directory
  • Title tag length is less than 65 characters

 

The page URL is standalone, unambiguous and reflects the site structure.

By default, Sitecore uses item names and tree structure to build the URL, thereby ensuring items are named according to page titles and placement within information architecture.

H1 is HTML text and provides an accurate and useful description of the page and what it is about.

The H1 heading is editable within the “Page Title” field in the page item and contains the page title text by default. 

Content can be crawled; the site avoids frames and Flash for key content.

Frames and Flash are not made available for key content elements within Sitecore items.

Each webpage contains 2-3 paragraphs of descriptive, on-topic and keyword-rich text.

Each Sitecore page item provisions the ability to add a rich text component in the main content area for descriptive text.

Main navigational menus are text-based links that can be read and followed by engines.

The site navigation is text-based and editable within the “Navigation” title field in the page item.

Images have HTML alt tags applied.

 

Each image in Sitecore’s media library has an “alt text” field with a warning validator.

In addition, media items can be published to the site with enforced meta descriptions and keywords.

The site uses clean, light “textbook” code that conforms closely to W3C standards; layout and formatting are controlled by external CSS files.

Sitecore supports front-end code using a clean <div> structure for layout with CSS and Javascript files stored externally.

Keywords and metadata are customized per page, highly topical and placed at the top of the page.

Sitecore can be configured with a base data template for all items with the following mandatory metadata fields:

  • Meta Description (field validator applied for < 155 characters- the max number of characters for effective SEO meta descriptions)
  • Meta Keywords configured as a Sitecore list fieldtype sourced from a controlled vocabulary of topics

Primary keywords used on page are competitive, relevant and well-embedded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Page receives a high SEO Score
from a content analysis service

 

The Sitecore SEO Toolkit is a free Sitecore module that evaluates page content for the following:

  • Errors such as missing metadata
  • Headings, words and phrases used most often
  • Incoming links from different search engines

Additionally, Sitecore can easily integrate with a third-party API offering Keyword Suggestion and Content Analysis functionality, such as Scribe, to support content authors in optimizing content.

Your workflow can be configured to include these calls as part of the publishing process and/or as a custom “Grade This Page” button in the ribbon. The basic steps include:

1)   Create these read-only “SEO Score” fields within page-level data templates to store returned values; this way, we can leverage native Sitecore functionality to insert a rule warning or rule pass/fail into the workflow.

  1. Page Grade (pass/fail)
  2. Keyword suggestions
  3. Content analysis results

2)   Leverage the Sitecore API to package together relevant content fields for the item and its related items to be sent to the analysis service.

3)   Trigger the API call within your custom button or on the Save or Submit action in your workflow. This call sends the relevant content to the service and saves the returned values in the SEO Score fields. 

4)   The content author can make adjustments based on returned analysis and resubmit the page. Upon receiving a passing grade, the page proceeds through approval to publication.

An XML sitemap is published to facilitate proper indexing by search engines.

 

Sitecore Marketplace offers two modules to help:

Deploying your Sitecore website is only the first step in creating an effective and engaging online presence. By leveraging Sitecore to enforce SEO guidelines, you can ensure your target audiences can successfully search and locate you and your content.